More on free markets

In my post on Political quizzes, I challenged the other participants in the survey because they weren't free-market enough in their economic beliefs. I realized after reading this, that my argument didn't address the underlying philosophic reasons well enough. So let me fix that problem here.

My discussion brought up two reasons why my economics score may have been higher. First was because the other participants may have wanted the government to provide handouts for the "needy". The second reason was that the other participants may have negative images of businesses in general. Both of these have deeper philosophic issues.

As for hand-outs, while most people don't like to see others suffer unnecessarily, that isn't a necessary and sufficient reason for the government to get involved. The issue ultimately comes down to a matter of self-sacrifice.

When is it appropriate to help others in need? This answer must ultimately be tied to what you value. If you value your own life (which you must if you want to continue living), then you'll choose an ethical system that has your life as the highest standard. When you don't value your own life, the actions you pursue will ultimately bring your life to a close. Self-sacrifice, by its very definition, means you sacrifice a value that is more important to you for a value that is less important for you. Otherwise it would not be a sacrifice. With this conception of sacrifice, it would not be inappropriate to risk your own life to save someone you love, like a child or spouse, but it would be inappropriate to risk your life for a complete stranger when your spouse and child depend on you for financial support. Every action that sacrifices a higher value for a lower value, destroys your life and your capacity to enjoy it.

Welfare is just the latest incarnation of self-sacrifice, this time forced on every tax-paying individual by our government. It is a bogus idea and should be eliminated.

The second reason I suspect I had a right leaning economic score was because of my complete understanding of how and why business create wealth. Trade among two consenting participants is the grease that makes our economy go round. Production is the machine that keeps the economy fully functioning. In order for the economy to function most efficiently, the government needs to "get out of the way" (laissez-faire). Honoring the rights of individuals (life, liberty, and property) is the defining concepts that separate civilized nations from third-world nations. With rights, individuals have the right to do whatever they want to their property and interact (trade) with any person they want. Any intrusion by the government ultimately destroys the social system that free-markets builds and sustains. It destroys the wealth that entrepreneurs and businessmen create. And as such, it should be eliminated.

For a fuller argument on the moral foundation of capitalism, check out Ayn Rand's Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.

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